Game feed is 32% more expensive and poults are up by a half, if they are available at all. That’s the conclusion of one shoot captain.
James Marchington runs a small shoot in the South-East of England. Last year, they put down 1500 and shot 450. He says he is struggling to find a game farmer with birds to sell.
“Our regular game farm usually gets all his birds as eggs or day olds from France, but with the bird flu situation those won’t be available this year,” James explains. “If we do obtain poults, they’re likely to cost around £4.50 each. That’s 50% up on what we paid last year.”
Feed will be more expensive too. The shoot buys in around 4 tons of pellets for the poults, before moving on to wheat in the hoppers once the birds leave the pens.
James has ordered this year’s pellets at a fixed price of around £560 per ton – 32% higher than last year, but at least he is guaranteed the supply.
“Wheat was around £120 per ton last year, but the price now is up around £300 per ton, and it may be higher still by the time we need it,” James adds.
“Poults and feed are the main costs on our shoot, but there will be other increases in things like fertiliser for the cover crops, and fuel for our part-time keeper.
“At the moment we can only guess what the eventual costs are going to be,” says James. “I have to go to the guns soon and tell them what money I want. I’ll have to warn them that I might have to come back for more.”
Despite the uncertainty, James is confident that the shoot will continue, and the loyal Guns will simply dig deeper into their pockets.
“It might be a different story for commercial shoots,” he says, “but for our Guns at least, they love their shooting and they will cut their outgoings elsewhere if they need to, rather than cutting back on their shooting.”